10 of My Biggest Turn-Offs When Reading Books

Since 10 Things I Want to Read More of in YA Books recieved such positive feedback, I decided to write up what things turn me off a book as well. Some of these things put me off books entirely and others might mean it takes me a little longer to finish the book.

1. Bad covers.

No matter how much we like to deny it, it’s only natural for us to judge a book by its cover. Since it’s the first thing we see, it needs to be attractive and eye-catching. To me, a bad cover is anything that has too much happening in the space, involves clashing colours and uses unprofessional or tacky looking fonts. Modelled covers can sometimes age poorly too — their hair, makeup and so on will one day not be as on trend and may end up being a point of ridicule. I’ve included some examples of ‘bad’ covers below. Whilst some of the example books have alternative covers or got redesigns, others were not so lucky . . .

2. Excessively long chapters.

This is something I’ve talked about in depth on Twitter and you’ll be aware of this already if you follow me, but long chapters are the bane of my existence. The great thing about short chapters is you have readers saying, “Oh, it’s only 15 pages, one more chapter can’t hurt” and suddenly they’ve finished the book. On the other hand, if it’s 100 pages in a chapter, I’ll probably stop reading earlier. It’s key to note my use of “excessively” though because long chapters are occasionally needed. However, too many long chapters where nothing exciting happens can slow the narrative pace and bore readers.

3. Lots of cultural references.

Come on, do we really need a Harry Potter reference in every YA book? Seriously, I bet I could find one in 80% of the contemporary books on my shelf. Whilst I can appreciate one or two being slid in, name dropping too many popular things can feel forced and cringeworthy. It can also show an author’s age when writing teen characters that use “LOL,” “One Direction” and “Stranger Things” in every sentence. Not only does this make the author seem out of touch, it takes away from the story they’re trying to tell and the references might not be relevant in a few years. Books that feel timeless are the best kind, in my opinion.

4. Too much description.

It can be hard to find a balance with description. To an extent, I like description, I like having a vivid picture of the characters and the world in my head, but it is easily overdone. Chunky paragraphs going into detail about every nook and cranny of a castle or academy is unnecessary. I don’t want to read pages and pages of this and if this happens, I’ll usually skim. The same goes with characters — nobody cares that Kylie, the five foot two brunette with beach curls, who was wearing an aquamarine tank top, denim mini skirt and battered white converse, was texting her blonde-haired, blue-eyed, quarterback boyfriend on her rose gold iPhone 8 when she found out her parents died. God, even typing that was exhausting!

5. The convenient absence of parents, guardians of adult figures.

Speaking of dead parents, convenient parental absences irritate me because they’re usually a sign of lazy writing. If the absence doesn’t play into the plot, I find dead parents, or ones that are always working out of town without checking in on their kids, to be an excuse for the younger characters to get away with anything they want. Even if the parents are absent, what about uncles, grandmas, godparents etc? In terms of an adult/child relationship, there’s so much to explore and it’s too often brushed under the rug because there’s no other way to explain how a sixteen year old could overthrow the government or a fourteen year old can get blackout drunk without consequences.

6. Obscure character names.

Obscure character names are a definite no from me. I don’t have any reasoning this time, I simply don’t like them. All they do is serve as a giant, neon sign above the main character’s head that says, “I’m quirky and special!” I really don’t want to read about any Tens, Blues, Patches, Dynalyas, Chaols etc in a world of Sarahs, Sams and Bobs. Sometimes it fits in with the creation of a new world, but it seems a little pretentious all the same.

Is this an America Singer call out? Maybe.

7. Insta-love.

This is pretty self-explanatory, but I want the lust! the pining! the angst! when reading romances, so instant love is always disappointing. I’m not opposed to love at first sight, but I want to see relationships that aren’t ready-made because relationships take work and it’s not as easy as kissing the boy after knowing him one day.

8. Purple prose.

Less really can be more. I’ve noticed that some authors like to flaunt their ability to regurgitate a thesaurus and write using flowery language that draws attention away from the narrative. One example of this is in YA is Shatter Me. Whilst I enjoyed the first three books, it took three attempts for me to get past the first few chapters because it tries too hard to be philosophical and thought-provoking. It’s also common in a lot of the classics.

9. Crude language.

This is something more predominant in NA than YA and it tends to be found more in male POVs, but I hate how some writers find it necessary to have the character cuss every other line or talk about sex and women in such a crass manner. It makes me uncomfortable — ‘locker room talk’ or generally jerk behaviour isn’t attractive. Realistic? Perhaps, but in moderation! You can portray young men to be more than vulgar and primitive beings.

10. Multiple POVs.

Controversial, but I prefer to follow one character throughout the course of the book — whether that means through restricted third person point of view or first. I can tolerate two POVs, I’d prefer one though. This is probably why I’ve avoided Six of Crows for so long. I think my aversion is because there’s always one POV you prefer, or one you dread.

That wraps up all my bookish turn-offs. I’m curious now, what your turn-offs are? Do you agree with mine? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

read it and weep,

11 replies on “10 of My Biggest Turn-Offs When Reading Books”

Ahaha, I’m glad you agree! Purple prose makes me want to rip my hair out, it’s so pretentious and is a way to show off as opposed to telling the narrative well.


This is very interesting! I agree with some, with others not so much. Where I 100% agree is the cover! I’m such a cover buyer and pick up 99% of the books just because I like their cover.
But I do enjoy cultural references a lot. I love understanding them but yes, the problem here is definitely that there are always the same things being referenced and also the stuff that was popular when I was 16, not the things popular with teens now.
Loved reading this post 🙂

Liked by 1 person

Yes! The only time I’ve picked up a book with a ‘bad’ cover was after a very insistent friend recommended it. I loved it, but it was such a shame I wouldn’t have looked twice otherwise. And I agree you make a good point about the cultural references! Perhaps if it wasn’t always the same ones, it wouldn’t annoy me so much. I can deal with them in moderation, although any reference to Harry Potter makes me roll my eyes nowadays.


I always hate when a nicer cover comes out after you bought it as well! Glad you liked the post 💓


Ah love this list!! Congrats on 300 followers btw ❤

I'm with you on ugly covers. Like we're way more likely to read a book with a pretty cover than one that looks ugly. Oof that UGLY Mockingjay cover ew, I don't get the colours they chose. I guess to attract a young audience but nope. And Shatter Me lmao what is that dress??

Also yeah I don't get all the HP characters. Personally, have to ask what books quote ST all the time because I must read??? ah LOVE that show im so trash

Characters names omg YES! Sometimes they're so weird and don't actually suit the character. And I can get annoyed when the character's name doesn't actually fit welp. Same as insta love WE WANT ANGST (just not too much drama and stupidity pls and thank you)

Also, on the note of crude language, as someone who swears way too much whoops, I HATE IT when authors replace cuss words. Like no thanks? Just use the swear word. No more holy shirt forking balls,,, like what?? I,, am so confused

Liked by 1 person

Thank you!

Exactly. I feel minimalist covers are always the safe bet if they lack the budget for a good cover design — then again, the likes of The Hunger Games series was a huge, so surely they could spare more on cover design.

Ahaha ST was an example, I’ve seen it a few times, but can’t think of the exact books I’m afraid.

In terms of replacing swear words, that annoys me even more! I recently read an ARC where it used “shiitake mushrooms” and “holy shirt,” which made it seem really cringe. I’m not opposed to crude language but how the men talk about women in NA books always makes me 🤢

Liked by 1 person

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